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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-27

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 27, 2002


  • [01] Gov't promises to cover 2004 rooms deficit; new hotel prospects dim
  • [02] Greek, Turkish foreign ministry officials meet in Athens
  • [03] Gov't on 'name issue' with FYROM
  • [04] US to phase out forces from Balkans, replace them with EU's, Pangalos says
  • [05] FM extends hand of friendship and aid to immigrants
  • [06] Protopapas blames ND for contentious political atmosphere
  • [07] Democracy in Greece on solid ground, V. Papandreou says
  • [08] Laliotis: Election law dialogue refers to post-2004 period
  • [09] ND leader chairs political analysis group meeting
  • [10] ND leader meets PASOK's candidate for Athens mayor
  • [11] Communist party says PASOK, ND agree on anti-popular policy
  • [12] SYN leader tables questions for premier on "political aberration" comments
  • [13] Gov't has no comment on Intracom chief's prosecution, spokesman says
  • [14] Gov’t determined to restore order in broadcasting, Protopapas says
  • [15] Greek Internal Affairs chief reports fall in complaints, rise in arrests
  • [16] Kaklamanis meets visiting delegation from Cyprus Parliament
  • [17] Defense minister on two-day visit to northeastern Greece
  • [18] Minister sees room for private firms in social insurance
  • [19] EU Commission postpones debate on state subsidies to OA
  • [20] Minister briefs parliamentary committee on passenger shipping
  • [21] Greek grant to FYROM's radio-television network
  • [22] Karatzas dismisses resignation talk
  • [23] GNTO to spend 500,000 euros on forest preservation
  • [24] Greek stocks jump 2.11 percent on ASE
  • [25] Minister of interior meets with ATHOC president
  • [26] Greek philologists announce awards for ancient Greek language Euro-competition
  • [27] Spanish PM Aznar says direct talks will not impede Cyprus' accession
  • [28] UN Security Council members urge leaders to show political determination

  • [01] Gov't promises to cover 2004 rooms deficit; new hotel prospects dim

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    The government on Tuesday promised to cover a deficit in the number of rooms reserved for “Olympic Family” members during the holding of the 2004 Games, without however, foreseeing the building of new luxury hotels in Athens – a standing demand by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos – whose portfolio includes tourism policy and commerce – said 2,700 rooms still needed to host the expanded “Olympic Family” will be covered through an increase of reserved rooms by participating hotels (from 80 percent to 90 percent of their total occupancy); expansion of current hotels, using cruise ships and including hotels that haven’t signed on as yet.

    The latter measures are expected to come up with another 1,600 to 2,000 more rooms, the minister said.

    The all-important issue of hospitality dominated Tuesday’s high-ranking inter-ministerial committee meeting focusing on 2004 preparations, and chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The committee is comprised of several ministers involved in 2004-related projects and preparations as well as the leadership of the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC).

    According to sources, ATHOC head Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki – a vocal supporter of the IOC’s request to lift decades-old restrictions on the building of new in the greater Athens area -- reportedly agreed with the proposal. ATHOC’s president and Tsohatzopoulos will meet again in the next few days work out ways of increasing hotel space for the tens of thousands of spectators expected to attend the Games as well.

    During the last IOC inspection visit to Athens last month, Denis Oswald -- the head of a coordination committee for the 2004 Games -- urged the Greek government to streamline bureaucratic obstacles for building new hotels and to offer more incentives. Moreover, during a November inspection Oswald said new hotels could provide the necessary solution, but only if construction began by March or April 2002 at the latest, otherwise, “they won’t be a solution for 2004.”

    Salt Lake City examined: In other matters, the inter-ministerial committee's members were briefed on the hosting of this month's Winter Games in Salt Lake City, with Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos terming them as "successful".

    Deputy Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios, meanwhile, focused on the draconian security measures taken for the winter games in the Utah metropolis.

    It was also announced that Michael Knight, the senior Labor government official that served as minister for the Olympics during the Sydney 2000 Games, will address the inter-ministerial committee on April 2 - a day before yet another IOC inspection team arrives in Greece to gauge progress for the upcoming Olympics.

    Finally, after the inter-ministerial session PM Simitis met in private with Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, with the latter reportedly calling for better coordination regarding promotion of the Games.

    Letter to PM on leasing private homes for 2004 Games: In a letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday, the Panhellenic Federation of Real Estate Owners (POMIDA) proposed that the government take measures giving home owners incentives to let fully-furnished private residences to visitors during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

    The letter was also sent to Olympic Organizing Committee (ATHOC) chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, and suggested that ATHOC organize a tender for a reliable private firm to manage the process.

    In addition, POMIDA called for legislation that would make the letting of homes during the Games legal, safe and profitable.

    According to POMIDA, this would require allowing contracts for short-term leases for private homes within 2004, allowing the parties in the agreement to decide on the price and exemption from all taxes, on-the-spot technical surveys and a grading system for the quality of housing offered, organized insurance of goods and installations offered under the lease and the option of exchange of use of homes between residents in Attica and visitors to the Games from other countries.

    In addition, the letter notes that the residences offered should be in a suitable place, be fully equipped, be in very good or excellent condition and be offered at reasonable prices.

    [02] Greek, Turkish foreign ministry officials meet in Athens

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    International developments and regional issues dominated Tuesday's meeting in Athens between the political directors of Greece and Turkey's foreign ministries, respectively.

    According to diplomatic sources, discussions covered the situation in the Balkans, the Mideast, the latest developments in Afghanistan along with the issue of combatting international terrorism, as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute in the Caucasus.

    The same sources cited a "complete identity of views on the political evaluation of those developments" during talks between Greek foreign ministry official Anastasios Skopelitis and his Turkish counterpart Baki Ilkin.

    Both sides also reportedly exchanged views on the complicated issue of political Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs), where it was decided that when an agreement on a specific CBM is achieved it will be jointly announced. Greek sources also reiterated "that we're progressing slowly but solidly."

    Foreign ministry officials later stressed that talks did not touch on procedures for commencing exploratory contacts over what they termed differences of "high rivalry" that exist between Athens and Ankara.

    The political directors' contacts fall within the framework of regular six-month meetings agreed to by the two sides.

    [03] Gov't on 'name issue' with FYROM

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greece reiterated on Tuesday that it wants a solution to the decades-old difference over the name of the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "We all want a solution to be found for FYROM's name within a framework of international rules and based on the defense of our national interests," government spokesman Christos Protopapas said during his daily press briefing, which on Tuesday took place in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

    He added that certain discussions with Skopje are continuing under the UN's auspices, although not at present.

    Athens has been at odds with FYROM for the past decade over the issue of the land-locked Balkan state's name, insisting that the word "Macedonia" should not be included in the name of the former Yugoslav republic as it implies expansionist designs against Greece's own large northern province, Macedonia, as well as being a historical misrepresentation.

    However, relations between Greece and the more than 10-year-old country to its north have dramatically improved since the two countries signed an interim agreement in New York under the UN's auspices seven years ago. Currently, on the 'name issue' ranks as the only difference between Athens and Skopje.

    Under the terms of that agreement, both sides are to proceed with negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution for the "name issue".

    [04] US to phase out forces from Balkans, replace them with EU's, Pangalos says

    BRUSSELS, 27/12/2002 (ANA - M. Spintourakis)

    Ruling PASOK deputy and former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos on Tuesday addressed Greek foreign and domestic policy issues in a press conference for Greek journalists here.

    Pangalos was in Brussels taking part in a Western European Union delegation visiting NATO.

    Speaking to journalists, Pangalos noted that in his opinion it was apparent that the United States were aiming to phase out their forces from the Balkans and leave the policing of the region to the Europeans, while regarding the military force in Afghanistan he predicted that the United States would like to relegate the lions' share of the responsibility to Turkey.

    Addressing the issue of the "Euroforce" he said that NATO circles believed that its role should be complementary to NATO's actions, adding that discussion focuses on whether the EU would be able to intervene in cases where the U.S. wish its intervention, while the possibility of EU's intervention in cases where the U.S. does not want it to intervene was not even being discussed.

    He also said that the United States do not wish to discuss the establishment of a common definition of terrorism, stressing that this practice was creating problems.

    [05] FM extends hand of friendship and aid to immigrants

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou proposed to immigrant communities on Tuesday to become bridges between their countries and Greece, to become ambassadors between the two cultures and countries and have this idea discussed in close cooperation with the country's various embassies.

    Papandreou, who extended a hand of friendship and aid to immigrants living and working or studying in Greece, was speaking on the occasion of a meeting organized by the foreign ministry's committee for non-govern-mental organizations with representatives of 40 organizations from 35 countries.

    Papandreou said the meeting was the beginning of further cooperation and thanked the immigrants for their presence, while remembering the years he had experienced himself as an immigrant and refugee in various countries.

    He said it is certain that many of the immigrants will stay and become Greek citizens and members of the European Community, adding that this change is not easy.

    "It is very important for Greece, for us to be able to give you a future. You are already members of this society of ours with your culture. And settlement, work, the working man's rights for health and education are issues preoccupying us, just as the principles of democracy, human existence and human rights are," he further said.

    Papandreou's initiative was hailed with satisfaction by the representatives of many immigrant groups, who also had the opportunity of explaining their problems to him and calling for his help to resolve them.

    After listening to the immigrants' observations and proposals, Papandreou took note of them and explained in turn that because the phenomenon of immigration is relatively new in Greece at present, many ministries are involved and as a result bureaucracy is created.

    Papandreou added, however, that many steps are being taken to improve the situation, while the foreign ministry is already preparing a bill on citizenship, which will help the situation, and efforts are made to conclude bilateral agreements with countries from which big groups of immigrants come.

    [06] Protopapas blames ND for contentious political atmosphere

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday blamed main opposition New Democracy for exacerbating the political climate, saying that the government had been forced to respond in its own defense to remarks by ND leader Costas Karamanlis amounting to abuse, especially on issues of transparency.

    "The government's interests - and its permanent priority - are to implement the government program and the problems concerning citizens," he added.

    Asked whether the government would continue to monitor the conflict between financial and business interests, the spokesman said the government would not rest at that and that its role was not just to act as a referee.

    The government's role is to protect the interests of the people and to this end it has ensured absolutely transparent, controlled and effective procedures, he added.

    More specifically, he noted that "no one will get any project under the 3rd Community Support Framework that they are not entitled to under transparent processes. We are not interested in who people are or how powerful they might be. Our only concern is if they fulfill the conditions set out in the tenders."

    ND leader inadequate, deputy press minister says: Deputy Mass Media and Press Minister Telemahos Chytiris on Tuesday called main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis inadequate, adding that Prime Minister Costas Simitis has the responsibility to criticize the negative climate, which does not reflect reality.

    He accused ND of a "strategy" of pessimism, charging that the main opposition party "sees everything in a negative way, supporting that nothing has been done, nothing moves ahead".

    "Simitis has given allot to the country, as we all recognize, while I do not know whether Karamanlis can compare with the premier," he said.

    ND says gov't spokesman pleading: Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, referring to statements by government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday, said he was pleading and was "attempting to justify the unjustifiable."

    Roussopoulos also said that the Greek people cannot be disorientated or deceived.

    Commenting also on statements by Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Chytiris, Roussopoulos said "the deputy press minister's abuse shows that both past and newcomer 'modernizers' agree on one thing, that they cannot do without power", ad-ding that "the only things uniting them are prattle, arrogance and their regime mentality."

    [07] Democracy in Greece on solid ground, V. Papandreou says

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday received Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou for a two-hour meeting and discussed the course of public works, as well as city planning and environmental issues.

    Speaking after the meeting, Papandreou noted that "democracy is strong in our country, but some people do not want to operate with its rules and over the past period it has been attempted by several sides to create a negative climate in public life, which will have effects on the economy as well."

    She stressed that the government is strong and has the ability and the capability to respond to the demands of the people and its commitments.

    "The government is strong because of the popular mandate it has received and it will undertake the necessary initiatives for the economy and the market to operate, as well as those to enable political life to function effectively and with transparency".

    [08] Laliotis: Election law dialogue refers to post-2004 period

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis on Tuesday clarified that possible discussions over changes in the country's election law refer to the period after 2004, something that means agreed to changes would be implemented after the holding of general elections.

    The ruling party's secretary as well as other top ministers have gone on record lately as favoring election law changes aimed at a more representational system, whereas Laliotis over the past month also unveiled a high-profile proposal for cooperation with the smaller parties to PASOK's left.

    The former public works and town planning minister made the statement on Tuesday following a meeting with the head of the Movement for a Modernizing Leftist (AEKA), Nikos Bistis, a one-time cadre with the Parliament-represented Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos).

    Synaspismos -- which earned 3.2 percent of the popular vote during the last general election (April 2000) and placed six deputies in Parliament -- has repeatedly called for the institution of a proportional representational system as an "inviolable condition" for any future cooperation.

    Conversely, main opposition New Democracy has sternly warned the ruling party against attempting to change the election law before the next general poll.

    [09] ND leader chairs political analysis group meeting

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired a meeting of cadres participating in the political analysis group on the recent attack against the party by the prime minister concerning political aberration and a possible change in the electoral law.

    According to reports, it was decided that ND will not follow PASOK on the tactic of polarization.

    "When they provoke us, we shall reply but we shall not play the game of artificial friction which is aimed at by the ruling party for petty party reasons," senior ND officials said.

    George Souflias said ND "will not follow the course of friction and fanaticism aimed at by PASOK for the purpose of disorientating public opinion".

    Dora Bakoyianni said ND cannot impose early elections and for this reason it is not calling for them, adding that friction does not benefit the economy or foreign policy.

    It was assessed that there is no plan for a more proportional electoral system and all that has been reported constitutes a copy of the German electoral system, without it even having been adjusted to Greek factors.

    Moreover, it was noted during the meeting that it will be extremely difficult for an amendment of the electoral law to be ratified by the present Parliament, while the first to react will be PASOK's deputies themselves.

    In no way will ND accept an amendment of the electoral law, it was pointed out, and neither will it agree to enter a discussion on the issue.

    [10] ND leader meets PASOK's candidate for Athens mayor

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK's candidate for Athens mayor Christos Papoutsis termed the confrontation for the Athens municipality a political and not a partisan one, following a half-hour meeting he had on Tuesday with main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis at ND's headquarters.

    Papoutsis said it was his institutional obligation to visit the ND leader and stressed that regardless of who ND's candidate for Athens mayor will be, he will ask for the election campaign to be conducted on a level of substance and based on programs and positions.

    He said he will make the same proposal to the other candidates who will be backed by the other parties.

    Papoutsis said that in the event that ND's candidate will be deputy Dora Bakoyianni, he will be very pleased as he held her in high esteem.

    He noted that democracy was strong and that a struggle was needed by all for the defense of institutions and that all the political forces should have a common stance against vested interests.

    Following the statements made by Papoutsis, an ND announcement said that Karamanlis stressed the need for a solution to the problems, which Athens has in view of the 2004 Olympic Games.

    [11] Communist party says PASOK, ND agree on anti-popular policy

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Tuesday the clash between the government and the main opposition New Democracy party "is taking place on which of the two will manage the anti-popular policy on which they coincide."

    Referring to latest developments and statements on "political aberration", KKE added that statements by Prime Minister Costas Simitis "about dangers of political aberration and recriminations with ND, against a background of conflict between major economic interests, show that only the people and its struggle is the one that can guarantee and achieve democratic and social rights and pave the way for developments benefiting it."

    KKE further said that PASOK "filled Greece with the trials of farmers, pupils and militants of the anti-war struggle", adding that "it voted for the 'terrorism law', together with ND, while backing and contributing to the war by the U.S. and the EU against peoples, with the pretext of combatting terrorism."

    The party further said that "friction in the bourgeoisie sector is also fuelled by the relentless clash between economic and business interests, both local and foreign, over the big feast provided by the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), public works projects, the Olympic Games and other claims."

    [12] SYN leader tables questions for premier on "political aberration" comments

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Tuesday tabled a question in Parliament addressed to Prime Minister Costas Simitis requesting further information on the latter's comments of a danger of political aberration.

    "It is unthinkable to talk of a danger of political aberration or destruction because justice is investigating specific cases ... The muddy waters are real not made up. The corruption is a fact, it is not staged," he noted.

    [13] Gov't has no comment on Intracom chief's prosecution, spokesman says

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday refused to comment on criminal prosecution against Intracom S.A. Chairman Socrates Kokkalis and the initiation of an investigation in the maritime investment of "Kathimerini S.A.", owner of the Athens daily having the same name.

    Protopapas said that he did not wish to comment or intervene in the decisions of prosecutors, adding "there is a decision for a criminal prosecution and for an initial investigation. In both cases we stated our position in the same way. We do not want, we do not wish and of course there should not be any intervention in the work of justice".

    "Justice will do its work always within the bounds of the rule of law, of a state ruled by law and all should have the opportunity of voicing their opinion," the spokesman said.

    "From that point onward, you all know that in Greece - and I say that for all cases - no one is guilty, everyone is considered by the legal system as being innocent until proven guilty. And this is said for us to avoid creating a climate with the business world in general, when it should not," he concluded.

    [14] Gov’t determined to restore order in broadcasting, Protopapas says

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    The government intends to put an end to the state of lawlessness in the broadcast media sector and issue licenses via the ordained legal and transparent procedures, Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas reiterated on Tuesday in Thessaloniki.

    Protopapas was in the northern Greek city for a meeting with the Macedonia-Thrace journalists' union ESHEMT.

    Twenty-seven licenses would be issued in the Thessaloniki area and 35 for greater Athens, he said, while any radio station that felt it had been unjustly dealt with could have recourse to justice.

    The minister also announced that work had begun on a national radio frequency map. Once this was completed, if the relevant committee felt that the technical capabilities were in any way altered, the situation would be re-examined, Protopapas said.

    During the meeting with northern Greek journalists, Protopapas also outlined the ministry's plans for the sector, such as the new bill on the incompatibility of media-owner contracts with the state sector, the creation of a new radio and television council and a code of ethics for news programs currently being prepared.

    The discussion also touched on problems particular to Thessaloniki and labor issues faced by journalists there.

    Lastly, the minister announced the names he would propose for the new management committee of the northern state TV channel ET3, to be submitted to the National Radio and Television Council (ERS).

    ESHEMT then gave the minister a memorandum outlining its positions, while also raising the issue of working conditions at ET3 and asking that project contracts be immediately replaced by work contracts.

    Another issue raised was that of making salaries of journalists at the Macedonian Press Agency equal to those of the Athens News Agency and that the term 'Macedonian' be retained in any new name arising under a merger between the two agencies.

    [15] Greek Internal Affairs chief reports fall in complaints, rise in arrests

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Fewer complaints about corruption in the police force were made during 2001 but the number of arrests had doubled, according to the annual report presented by the Greek police Internal Affairs Service to Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee on Tuesday.

    The number of complaints dropped to 394 from 725 in 2000, the report said, while the number of officers arrested had increased by 118 per cent.

    IA chief Vassilis Tsiatouras said that 200 police officers had been prosecuted for dereliction of duty since the service was created in 1999, while he expressed concern over the large number of officers implicated in cases of corruption. According to the latest figures, these numbered nearly 150 men divided among all ranks of the force.

    Tsiatouras also said cases needed to go to trial more quickly in order to avoid problems, such as witnesses changing their testimony. He noted that only eight of 48 cases involving on-the-spot arrests had been heard and none of the regular cases had come to trial.

    Of the cases that came to the IA service's attention, he added, about 25 per cent involved felonies but most officer violations were not conducted within the framework of organized crime. He also said that cooperation between the service and the main body of the force was increasing, with more officers coming forward with information or asking for the IA's protection.

    Offences of which officers were accused were primarily dereliction of duty, followed by issuing false certifications and bribery. Most "sensitive" services were those dealing with foreign nationals and passport control, he added.

    Finally, Tsiatouras said the IA had adequate manpower and resources and that there had been no incidence of corruption in its ranks.

    [16] Kaklamanis meets visiting delegation from Cyprus Parliament

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Cyprus accession to the European Union and the progress in talks for a solution to the Cyprus problem were the main topics discussed during a meeting on Tuesday between Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and a delegation from the Cyprus House of Representatives Committee for Defense.

    Also attending the meeting was the president of the Greek Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Karolos Papoulias.

    In statements after the meeting, Kaklamanis reiterated that Greece's EU partners had assured Athens that a solution to the Cyprus problem would not be demanded as a condition for the island republic's accession. At the same time, he added, Athens had made it clear that it would not ratify any treaty for EU expansion that did not include Cyprus.

    "The Cyprus issue is not a political problem but one of continuing military occupation and violation of international law against a UN member-state," he stressed.

    Cyprus Coordinating Committee concerned over Cyprus issue

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Coordinating Committee for Support of the Struggle for a Free Cyprus (SEYAEK) expressed strong concern over the course and development of the Cyprus issue at an event held in Athens on Tuesday on the "current developments, dangers, possibilities and prospects of the Cyprus issue".

    SEYAEK is composed of 45 agencies, both Greek and Cypriot, and was created last May "for solidarity and the joint confrontation of the common enemy of Greeks everywhere," according to a statement by the coordinator of refugee societies of Cyprus Yiannis Siekersavvas.

    Referring to the Greek people, the speaker said that if they do not consider the fate of Cyprus their own problem and allow the legalization of Turkish occupation through the solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, they will pave the way for the Aegean and Thrace, which is already being dangerously transformed into a new Cyprus issue with the same scenarios concerning a "Turkish minority."

    [17] Defense minister on two-day visit to northeastern Greece

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Tuesday began a two-day visit of Greece's northeastern province of Thrace, accompanied by the country's military leadership.

    In statements to the press he said that the "state and the armed forces have set in motion common efforts to improve the quality of life of all citizens, that live or have activities in the mountainous regions of Thrace."

    Speaking about the country's armaments, he said that they are the most modern and with the perfect usage by the specialized personnel can confront every kind of threat effectively.

    [18] Minister sees room for private firms in social insurance

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Tuesday that private insurers could play a complementary role in social insurance, with workers, employers and the state still financing the bulk of the system through mandatory contributions.

    "It is natural to assume that income spent on insurance services will rise and gradually approach a European Union average of 10 percent of gross domestic product," Christodoulakis told the Union of Insurance Companies of Greece.

    "In Greece, the corresponding figure is 2.2 percent of GDP. I think that it could rise to 5.0 percent, but a much greater spread of quality is required and an understanding of the significance of insurance services," he added.

    Addressing the same event, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that private insurance could act as a partner of the state social insurance system.

    The union's president, Dimitris Kontominas, said the insurance industry was in difficulty due to a weak performance by the Athens Stock Exchange that had exacerbated existing problems, further narrowing profit margins.

    [19] EU Commission postpones debate on state subsidies to OA

    BRUSSELS, 27/02/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    A discussion by the European Commission on subsidies given by the Greek government to the ailing state airline Olympic Air-ways has been postponed until next week, sources revealed on Tuesday.

    The discussion was originally scheduled to take place during the Commission's regular meeting on Wednesday, but was apparently postponed after Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio asked for more time in which to be fully briefed on the terms and conditions under which Olympic received a loan of 17.6 million euros from the Commercial Bank of Greece.

    When the discussion finally begins, however, the Commission will be called to decide whether Olympic Airways has in recent years received state subsidies in violation of community directives.

    If it decides that this is the case, it must then initiate a procedures that will seek to rescind or modify any state assistance given within a time framework to be decided on by the Commission.

    The Commission has allowed state subsidies to be paid to Olympic on two occasions in the past (in 1994 and in 1998) in the form of loans guaranteed by the Greek State, on condition that they were used to restructure the airline.

    OSPA announces work stoppages: The Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) on Tues-day announced its decision to hold two three-hour work stoppages to protest government plans regarding the future of Olympic Airways.

    [20] Minister briefs parliamentary committee on passenger shipping

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis briefed Parliament's Production and Trade Committee on Tuesday on the application of the law on passenger shipping deregulation (as of November 1, 2002).

    "No island will lack communication by sea in 2002-2003," he said, adding that the government will exhaust all means to ensure the competitive market's operation.

    The discussion with ministers highlighted the problem concerning the companies' lack of interest in scheduling sailings to 25 islands, as well as subsequent protests on the islands of Limnos, Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos and elsewhere.

    Referring to the process of covering routes in the new deregulated status, Anomeritis said 285 routes were proposed and 279 applications were submitted which, however, do not include services for 25 Aegean islands.

    Anomeritis also said that on March 6 the Passenger Shipping Communications Council will proclaim the routes to be accepted, while an invitation will be issued for the remaining routes by April 30.

    [21] Greek grant to FYROM's radio-television network

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Northern Greece's Industries Union (SBBE) have granted five computers and two printers to the National Radio-television Network of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), to support the network's modernization plan.

    SBBE chairman, Dimitris Symeonidis, presented the grant to FYROM's MTV 5 managing director during an even held February 22 in Skopje. The event was attended by Greek ambassador in FYROM and the Greek army representative to the KFOR force, major A. Taouktsis.

    "Through this grant, I have the chance to express the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, the strong historic, cultural and economic relations between the Balkan nations and also the fact that for SBBE promoting cooperation with other Balkan countries is a priority," Symeonidis said.

    Greece is the biggest foreign investor in FYROM, with total investments exceeding 230 million US dollars. A total of 50 Greek businesses are activated in the neighboring country, creating around 5,000 jobs.

    Greece is also the third largest trade partner of FYROM, following Yugoslavia and Germany.

    [22] Karatzas dismisses resignation talk

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece governor Theodore Karatzas on Tuesday dismissed talk over his resignation after the end of his term in the bank.

    "There is not such an issue," Karatzas told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis to brief him over National Bank's 2001 results.

    Karatzas' term as governor in Greece's largest commercial bank ends in a month.

    Replying to questions over how the economy was affected by a contentious political climate in the country, Karatzas said: "The economy has strong bases."

    [23] GNTO to spend 500,000 euros on forest preservation

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Hellenic Tourist Real Estates SA (ETA), a subsidiary of Greek National Tourism Organization, on Tuesday said that it would earmark 500,000 euros annually from Mont Parnes Casino's revenues for the maintenance and protection of Mont Parnes National Forest.

    An ETA statement said there were no plans to expand the casino's facilities in the surrounding forest area, included in a privatization plan for the casino.

    ETA said that GNTO owned an area of 3,100 stremmata (one stremma=1,000 square meters) in the mountain Parnes which was under the management of Parnes Forest Inspection and was not associated with the casino privatization.

    ETA's announcement was an answer to recent press reports and accusations by a committee for the preservation of Mont Parnes National Forest over plans to expand the casino's facilities.

    [24] Greek stocks jump 2.11 percent on ASE

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended Tuesday's session sharply higher with sentiment on the Athens Stock Exchange improved, reflecting a positive climate in international markets.

    The Greek stock market seemed ready to recoup its February losses on Tuesday, with more than three trillion drachmas lost from the market's capitalization so far this month, ending sharply higher.

    Worries over political developments and a fragile business climate, a combination that hit market sentiment in previous weeks, is beginning to subside while an improving climate in international markets is also encouraging the return of investors in the Greek bourse.

    Analysts said that the market, after its three-week decline, looked oversold and predicted that the general index would be tested around the 2,400 level in the next few days before beginning its climb towards the 2,500 level in the short-term.

    Also encouraging was a 40 percent increase in the volume of trade on Tuesday.

    Strong buying for smaller and medium-sized capitalization stocks helped push share prices higher and the general index above the 2,400 level.

    The index ended 2.11 percent higher at 2,406.80 points, although turnover remained a disappointing low Dr 35.8 billion, or 105.1 million euros.

    The Construction, IT, Publication and Textiles sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (3.76 percent, 3.05 percent, 3.01 percent and 2.90 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.90 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 2.33 percent, and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index increased by 2.33 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 317 to 27 with another 13 issues unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: Prices drop in slim trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished lower in light trade focusing on five-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of around 5.31 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 36-37 basis points.

    [25] Minister of interior meets with ATHOC president

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis on Tuesday met with Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and discussed issues related to the Games.

    Daskalaki stressed that they discussed further ways of informing the public on the Athens 2004 Games, over and above the establishment of the Administrative Projects Group, noting that the most important aspect of the Games for the citizens is that the projects will remain serving the city after the Games.

    On his part, Skandalidis said that "all is well" and that the " Administrative Projects Group" of the ministry of interior along with the "Athens 2004" are moving ahead with the realization of the memorandum signed by the ministry and ATHOC when Vasso Papandreou was minister of interior.

    [26] Greek philologists announce awards for ancient Greek language Euro-competition

    Athens, 27/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek Union of Philologists organized a competition for high school students as part of the European Year of Languages 2001, entitled "The Ancient Athens of the Classical Era - 5th century BC".

    Fourteen high schools and 25 senior high schools participated in the competition, which involved the creation of files with material in ancient Greek.

    The first prize on the senior high level was won by Tamara Mannay from Belgium, the second by Katharina Zieglel from Germany and the third by David Weis from Luxembourg.

    The first prize for high level was won by a group of students from the Belgian school of Institute du Sacre-Coeur and the second was also a team effort of the Spanish school J.E.S. San Isidro. There was not third prize awarded in this category.

    All awards comprise of fully paid vacations in Greece.

    [27] Spanish PM Aznar says direct talks will not impede Cyprus' accession

    NICOSIA, 27/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who is currently President of the European Council, reassured here on Tuesday that the EU would take its decision on Cyprus' accession to the EU irrespective of the progress or outcome of UN-led direct talks, aiming at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the protracted Cyprus question.

    Speaking after a working lunch with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, during a three-hour visit to the island, Aznar expressed the conviction that the Cyprus President's determination would give an impetus for a positive outcome of the peace talks and assured the Spanish Presidency is committed to applying the deadlines set out concerning the Union's enlargement.

    In his remarks, President Clerides said "our goal is a reunited Cyprus that could speak with one voice in the Union and implement effectively the EU acquis communautaire and policies."

    He added that he had assured the European Council's President that "we will make every possible effort for a viable solution of the Cyprus problem, based on relevant UN resolutions, high-level agreements and the acquis communautaire."

    Speaking through an interpreter, Aznar said he visited Cyprus within the framework of his tour of candidate countries and that he had outlined to President Clerides the fundamental goals of the Spanish Presidency.

    Aznar also underlined the commitment of the Spanish Presidency and the EU to the accession process and said he had congratulated Cyprus for its efforts to adopt the acquis communautaire, noting that these efforts are highlighted by the European Com-mission's progress reports for Cyprus.

    "I notified the President of our determination to apply the dead-lines set out for enlargement, so that we, the 15 members of the EU, will reach an agreement and negotiate with the candidate countries the chapters that the Spanish Presidency has assumed the task to conclude," the Spanish Premier said, adding that "this will allow us to make decisions concerning enlargement by the end of this year."

    "All our efforts will aim at applying the deadlines at least during the Spanish Presidency," he added.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem, Aznar recalled the 1999 EU Helsinki Council's conclusions, that the solution of the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for the island's accession to the EU, and expressed hope that ongoing direct talks between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would safeguard stability, peace and security on the island.

    "Progress in these talks will give an impetus to Cyprus' accession course but I would like to make it clear that the EU decision will be irrelevant to the progress and the outcome of the talks. This is the commitment made by the EU and I have assured President Clerides about this," Aznar said.

    He also noted this was the first visit of a Spanish prime minister and of a President of the European Council to the island, noting that this shows Spain's interest in enhancing its relations with Cyprus.

    In his remarks, President Clerides said the aim of Aznar's visit to the island was to brief the Cyprus government on the Spanish Presidency's task and "to exchange views on various issues related to the Union and especially Cyprus' accession course."

    [28] UN Security Council members urge leaders to show political determination

    NEW YORK, 27/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Security Council members urged on Tuesday Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to approach the resumption of UN-led direct talks on Cyprus in a spirit of compromise and with a sense of urgency and political determination so as to narrow the differences between them.

    In a verbal statement to the press, President of the Security Council Adolfo Aquilar Zinser also said the members of the Council share the view expressed by each of the two leaders that it should be the objective to reach an agreement by June 2002 and that this objective is feasible.

    The members also reiterated their full support for the Secretary General's mission of good offices granted to him by the Council, in Security Council Resolution 1250, which says there should be no preconditions, that all issues are on the table, that both sides should make a commitment in good faith to negotiate until a settlement is reached and that there should be a full consideration of relevant UN resolutions and treaties.

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